Guard Your Egg

Trial by Nature #10 - Tips to Survival in the Courtroom

Male emperor penguins are “stay-at-home-dads.” Once the female lays the couple’s single egg, she goes off on a “girls weekend” for two months.

While she stuffs her belly full of fish, the male penguin braves temperatures of up to -76° F keeping the egg warm by holding it on top of his feet.

The males huddle together for warmth, taking turns moving to the frigid outside perimeter of the flock. If an egg is dropped or inadequately warmed, it will quickly perish.

When mom returns, she cares for the chick while dad goes hunting. When he returns, they switch off again. Emperor penguins continue to co-parent until the chick is ready to go out on its own. Family bonds are strong and the flock works together to protect the young from the elements and predators. Penguin culture is robust and supportive.

As a Bar, we need to look after our flock. Like the penguins taking turns standing on the cold perimeter of the flock, we must all contribute to the greater good of our community. Dedication to pro bono work, Bar programs, teaching opportunities and professionalism is a shared responsibility. This collaboration ensures the practice of law will persevere as a profession rather than a mere occupation.

We are responsible for ensuring the survival of our young lawyers. I cannot name one successful trial lawyer who did not receive coaching and mentoring from a more seasoned veteran. If you are one of the successful attorneys, by all means, “pay it forward.” Professional courtesy, courtroom decorum, and ethical behavior are contagious among lawyers. Spread it freely.

Don’t forget about your flock at home. Trial lawyers display profound passion for their clients. Often, we are consumed by it. Being engrossed in measured bursts can be an asset. However, being consistently consumed is neither sustainable nor healthy. You might be the best lawyer in the whole wide world, but if you are not mentally and physically fit, you will never be your personal best. Your clients deserve nothing less.

Take care of yourselves and your family. Stick together through difficult times and never forget to guard your egg, lest it crack.


Mother Nature teaches us survival skills. Anthropologists, biologists and naturalists like David Attenborough have studied animals in their natural environments for many years. There is vast knowledge in their work, worthy of application in the courtroom. Hunting skills, survival tactics and pure logic prevail in Mother Nature’s kingdom. The courtroom is no different. Trial by nature persists and endures. We stand to learn a lot by studying natural animal behavior patterns.

After all, lawyers are animals too.

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